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UK investor connects first subsidy-free solar asset

U.K. renewable energy investor NextEnergy Solar Fund Ltd., or NESF, has grid connected its first unsubsidized solar project and started construction of a larger 50-MW subsidy-free plant.

The company on Aug. 5 connected the 5-MW Hall Farm II project to the grid, construction of which began in March. Located in Leicestershire, the project is an extension to the 5-MW Hall Farm solar plant, acquired by NESF in 2015 and supported by the U.K.'s renewable obligation certificates, or ROCs, subsidy scheme.

Hall Farm II will not receive any government subsidies and will have no impact on Hall Farm's eligibility to obtain ROCs.

Meanwhile, NESF said it has started construction of the unsubsidized 50-MW Staughton solar facility located on the Bedfordshire-Cambridgeshire border in England. The solar project is split into two sites, which will have a direct interconnection and feed into a single substation, according to an Aug. 7 release. The facility is scheduled to come online by the end of 2019.

Additionally, the company has acquired the 8-MW Ballygarvey solar plant in Northern Ireland from the company's operating asset manager WiseEnergy for about £8.5 million.

Ballygarvey was connected to the grid in March 2018 and receives 1.4 Northern Ireland ROCs per megawatt-hour under Northern Ireland's regulatory framework.

WiseEnergy has managed the solar project since early 2018 is expected to help with the onboarding process as NextEnergy Solar Fund assimilates the asset into its portfolio.

With the acquisition of Ballygarvey and grid connection of Hall Farm II, the company now owns a portfolio of about 89 operating solar plants with a total installed capacity of 705 MW.